Home Arts & Ent. What’s Hiding from Us?

What’s Hiding from Us?

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Critically acclaimed and Oscar-winning director, Jordan Peele has a strong reputation with his acting and directing skills. Recently, his second horror film, Us,  serving as a follow up to Get Out, has hit the big screen. Similar to Get Out, Us is a social commentary about American societal values and is psychologically stimulating. The film is centered around Adelaide Wilson, portrayed by Lupita Nyong’o, and her family vacationing in Santa Cruz. Adelaide is skeptical on this trip because she is reminded of repressed memories. When she was a child, she got lost at the nearby boardwalk where she discovered her evil doppelganger, Red, and feared this beach ever since that event. The next day, dopplegangers, known as the Tethered, of the Wilsons appear to terrorize the family and the rest of Santa Cruz.

Red and Adelaide Wilson, both portrayed by Lupita Nyong’o, in Us. Written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele.

Typically, horror movies have symbolism scattered throughout the plot in order to convey important concepts and Us is no exception. Although most of these symbols displayed in horror films are through recurring objects, this movie uses humans as well to showcase the main theme of duality. The most obvious sign of this is the Tethered versions of Adelaide and her family. Although the Tethered represent clones of the characters in the film, they look and act more sinister than the original household. The Tethered were the result of a government-sponsored cloning project, which happened to be relatively successful considering that each person in this universe has a Tethered counterpart. They live within an underground tunnel system where they mirror and control the movements of their untethered body. This group of people accentuates the idea “you are your own worst enemy”. In addition to movement, they share the same thoughts and ideas in alternate worlds. Another image in the movie commonly noted in this film is the golden pair of scissors Red is seen holding throughout the movie,  which represents duality as well. Since scissors usually are symmetrical in shape and have double blades, it shows that there are two sides to someone or something. It also symbolizes the tethered cutting off ties with their original body so they are freed from their normal counterpart.

Red holding golden scissors.

Like Peele’s first horror film, Us includes social commentary on American society. This is immediately shown in the opening of the movie where an advertisement of the real historical event, Hands Across America. This campaign took place on May 25th, 1986, where millions of Americans stood in a human chain to fight hunger, poverty, and homelessness in the United States. When the Tethered versions of the Wilsons first appear, they are all holding hands, alluding to the Hands Across America campaign. This event was a major motive for Red, who emerged as a leader, to stage a revolt for the Tethered to come out from their secluded underground world. This action addresses the theme of privilege. Because the surface people, who are able to speak and spend their days however they please, the Tethered are looked down upon as shadows of real people who are unable to speak and live their lives freely. Although the geography of the United States does not allow a continuous human chain, the ending scene of this film shows a consistent line of Tethers holding hands. Since the Tethered revolt was deemed successful due to the imagery in the final scene, this demonstrated the accomplishment of these people and how they are now assuming control of Santa Cruz and the rest of the United States. Considering the title as well, Us could represent the US with ideas of materialism, corruption, and advancements in technology.

Tethered Wilson family holding hands.

Whether this movie represents the American standard, privilege or duality, there are still many more symbols to uncover. But, that’s to be decided when you find out for yourself what this horror masterpiece has to offer.